Target and mechanism of action: this is humanized monoclonal antibody that binds to VEGF, preventing the binding of VEGFR to its receptor (VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2), on the surface of endothelial cells. The biologic activity of VEGF interfere with the formation of new blood vessels, thus preventing the cancer tumor growth.
Indications: the drug was approved in combination with 5-fluorouracil and folic acid +/- irinotecan, in the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Currently we are investigating other application of the drug, for example in combination with chemotherapy with oxaliplatin and 5-fluorouracil or capecitabine or in the adjuvant setting, i.e. after a radical surgery to remove colon cancer.
Mode of administration: it is administered intravenously.
Most common side effects: asthenia, diarrhea, nausea, pain not otherwise specified. Rarely side effects are hypertension and proteinuria. In rare cases the drug can cause bleeding or thromboembolism.
Trade name: Avastin (Genentech and Roche pharmaceutical companies). The drug has received FDA approval and enter the market in the U.S. in February 2004. Recently, in January 2005, was approved by the European Commission in October 2005 and it is marketed in Italy.